The unrelenting push of in-car technology isn’t going to stop any time soon, and it looks like Ford and GM will make sure that we’re never bored or without high-speed internet connections in our cars in the future. To that end, Ford just announced that it will add Spotify integration to many of its cars, while GM promises to package 4G LTE connectivity in its cars.
Ford’s no stranger to streaming audio and music: its Sync AppLink system already connects to smartphones to play things like NPR News, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and MOG. Today’s announcement that Ford will connect to a streaming music service isn’t new, either: both MOG and Rhapsody already support voice-activated, on-demand tracks, albums, and custom radio stations. But Ford’s newest app connection is Spotify, the worldwide service hit with 20 million active users, and arguably the streaming music market’s biggest player.
This is good news for drivers of Ford vehicles with Sync AppLink, but as usual Ford’s announcement comes with a caveat: if your car is equipped with MyFord Touch (or MyLincoln Touch), you’ll be Spotify-less. AppLink is still unavailable for any MFT-equipped cars, and Ford hasn’t announced when the two tech features will finally marry. If you made the choice to buy the Focus SE (which has Sync AppLink) rather than the Titanium (which has MFT), however, the music is all yours to enjoy.
Across town, General Motors is getting ready to make a big technological leap: it just announced that it has partnered with AT&T to provide 4G LTE service for its customers. That LTE connectivity, by the way, will be packaged in many 2015-model-year Chevrolets, Buicks, GMCs, and Cadillacs.
It appears that GM’s going to use those connections just like every other manufacturer: by turning its cars into rolling WiFi hotspots. But from there the possibilities are endless—GM could create a streaming audio/video service that uses its back-seat entertainment systems, or upgrade its OnStar service to provide faster/more features.
It’s a curious move for GM: while we’ve already seen OEMs packaging high-speed internet connections in its cars (Audi Connect, Chrysler Uconnect, et cetera), GM is now the first American manufacturer to go to 4G LTE service, which is considerably quicker than 3G. It’s also an about-face for the company: all GM vehicles sold today come with CDMA cellular connections and Verizon Wireless service, in order to connect with the manufacturer’s OnStar telematics/concierge service.
General Motors acknowledges that there will be some overlap between the networks and technologies, but says that it'll uphold its commitments to Verizon Wireless (and current OnStar customers) into the future. But cars equipped with the "tenth-generation OnStar platform," which bows next year, will use AT&T exclusively. That includes 4G LTE connectivity where available, but the OnStar system can also use the older 3G or EDGE (2G) networks to make a connection.
Spotify integration will reach users “soon,” according to Ford (expect it in the next month or so), while GM’s new high-speed connections will reach its cars some time next summer or fall when the automaker releases its 2015-model-year cars.
Sources: GM, Ford